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11-Databases

(1) Introduction to Databases

A database is a collection of information organized so that a computer program can quickly retrieve desired pieces of data. A field is a single piece of information; a record is one complete set of fields; and a table is a collection of records.


For this assignment I followed the steps presented in the video. I first hid the columns that I was not interested in for this assignment. Then I started with cholesterol, sorting for the highest values and then, filtering only the top 45 foods (the top 25%). I did the same for saturated fats (top 25%). Finally, after sorting the entries for sodium, I took the top 4 foods to avoid. I have included a screen capture of this data base below:

We should avoid corn dogs, butter sticks, beef and bean burritos, and custard.

(2) Managing School Data

Schools and colleges are dependent upon databases to maintain student records, finances, registration, teacher information, schedules, and many other things. Teachers input data into such systems through grade book programs and other teacher/administrator software. Teachers should also be able to use programs like Microsoft Excel to organize data and merge files.

  • Download the schools database file. Create mailing labels and form letters (3 suffices) using the mail merge feature in Word. This will serve as a data file (also known as secondary file) when merging with a primary document to make form letters, mailing letters, or catalog entries. Include only representative samples from your merges.

In this assignment I practiced using a database to populate fields in a MSWord Document. I used this method to create a form letter and labels.Here is a screen capture of the field set up in the form letter.
Once the fields were set, I merged the document to create the file pictured below:

I used the same process for the labels.
Setting up the fields:

Merged document:

(3) Creating / Enhancing databases for your subject

Watch video Constructing a database from scratch (21 minutes) - make sure to watch full screen!

Teachers use programs like Excel to manage and organize large sets of data.

  • Create a new spreadsheet or a new worksheet in an existing database file. For example, if you are a social studies teacher, you may wish to add a worksheet to one of the databases designed for social studies teachers. Your worksheet should include a minimum of 10 records and 5 fields and should include an autofilter for easy record selection. The material should be related to the subject you teach. Include a printout of your new database in your portfolio, and post the Excel file (.xls) in your electronic portfolio (if required by professor).

For this assignment, I pulled data that I had collected for my thesis. I wish I had known how to use excel in this way while doing my data analysis! In this table the data consists of measurements of the consonant sound of what is morphologically a single and double consonant (/s/ vs. /ss/ and /l/ vs. /ll/). Then I took the ration of that measurement over the length of the string of vowel-consonant-vowel or VCV. This gives a better read of the actual length of segment that has been controlled for the rate of speech which can be quite variable. There is also information about the length of the segment as compared to the length of the entire word with the number of syllables per word for comparison. The database was created in Google docs and is linked to below:

Lengths of Single and Double Consonants in Nahuatl



(4) Using web-based databases

A growing number of educational databases are available on the Internet. Teachers can use these databases without having to teach the mechanics of a program like Excel.


1. I took the survey that calculated my nutrition:

Based on these results, I am malnourished. Based on my physical appearance, I clearly made mistakes in calculating the serving size of my meals. This does, however, reflect my meals yesterday. 
 I am lacking Calcium, and my lactose intolerance does not help the issue. I don't really ever eat fast food so the calculations were hard to make since many of the options were dishes at chain restaurants. Though the results do not demonstrate this, I clearly have an excess intake of sweets and candies. 

I entered my results into the form on the nutrition lesson page (I am at the bottom of the page at the time of the snapshot:
  
In looking at the results (below) it looks like my generation has plenty of calories, vitamin C and thiamine. We are not getting enough polyunsaturated fats, fiber, calcium. That being said, considering my results, there is a fair chance that there is a sample bias from underreporting or cases like mine where I miscalculated my own intake (understanding of what a "serving size" is).

Database Lesson Plan
    First students will take a survey on the meanings of the word like, they would be asked to determine the most essential meanings/uses of the word like.
    Then I would have students use a small corpus of English texts (both written and transcribed speech) to conduct a corpus analysis of the English usage of the word like. After doing a search of the word, students would record how many times this word was used as a preposition "similar to", a preposition "for example", as a conjunction "as though, in the same way as", a noun "...and the like", to introduce reported speech "he's like 'x, y, z!' ". Each type of usage would get the columns: total number of uses, number of tokens in spoken texts, number of tokens in written text. 
    Once this database was created, students would be able to compare actual usage in this data base to how lexicographers assign meaning rankings (e.g. first definition, second etc.) also they would compare the proscriptive descriptions of "formal" and "informal" with the actual usage in this corpus. Then they would be able to compare both of these results with their own attitudes as a class with the results of their survey.
    In this lesson, which would be a long term project/lesson (perhaps over two weeks-4 with two class times devoted to it), students will learn how to do a corpus analysis. They will also see how what lexicographers say, what we believe about language, and the data with actual usage can be vastly different.

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